It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person in want of a good project will adapt Pride and Prejudice–if not always to dazzling effect. The latest take, a two-part miniseries called Death Comes to Pemberley, premiered yesterday on PBS. And if there’s anything P&P fans like almost as much as Austen’s book, it’s consuming and then critiquing the various interpretations of it. Which is why we’re taking this opportunity to rank 13 different iterations of Pride & Prejudice, from the best (the 1995 miniseries starring Colin Firth is a nigh-untouchable high point) to the significantly less great.
Pride and Prejudice (miniseries):
The 6-hour 1995 BBC version is the gold standard for faithful adaptation. Colin Firth’s haughty, smoldering Darcy is the platonic ideal of the character, playing beautifully off of Jennifer Ehle’s wry, mature Lizzy Bennet. Plus, the miniseries’ runtime means every nuance of Austen’s work (and her quippy dialogue) is represented—while allowing for some creative liberties, like Firth’s Darcy taking a bath, or a dip in a pond that leads to him striding about manfully in a wet white shirt.
10. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (book):
Lizzie and Darcy had more than enough obstacles stacked against their happy ending–money, social class, Mrs. Bennet. Did we really need to add a horde of the undead? An upcoming film version might be more successful, as actually seeing a bonnet-wearing Lizzy take out a zombie has a certain appeal.
11. Pulse and Prejudice (book):
Austen’s book has spawned dozens upon dozens of novels that continue the story of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, or contort favorite characters into new situations—so maybe it was inevitable that we would end up with vampire Darcy.
12. Pride & Prejudice (Marvel comic):
An unnecessary (and badly-illustrated) attempt to cash in on Jania (Jane Austen mania, of course. I’m sorry). The story seems simple enough, but it turns out Austen’s text is too rich to survive a quick translation to comics style.
13. Colin Firth as Wet Shirt Darcy statue:
This 12-foot fiberglass statue rising from the waters of Serpentine lake in Hyde Park is nightmare fodder. Stare in its blank, dead eyes, and you’ll never want to watch that wet-shirt scene ever again.